By Jonathan Blitzer, New YorkerApril 18, 2017
Ever since Donald Trump became President, mayors and city council members in “sanctuary cities”—places where local law-enforcement officials limit their coöperation with immigration agents—have promised to resist the federal government’s crackdown on immigrants. The new Administration has responded with threats (to cut sanctuary cities’ funding), reprisals (like launching more raids in specific jurisdictions), and accusations (that these cities are making the country less safe). City leaders have, in turn, criticized immigration raids, and raised money to pay for the legal bills of residents who’ve been arrested. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ice) answers to the federal government, not to local officeholders, and as it continues to expand the scope and reach of its activity, the limits of city power are becoming increasingly clear.
Consider New York City, whose leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, are vocally pro-immigrant and anti-Trump. Lately, ice agents have been showing up at locations where the city is powerless to stop them: the courts. Since January, there have been seventeen reports of ice agents making arrests at courthouses in the city, compared to nineteen such reports made in the previous two years combined, according to the Immigrant Defense Project, a nonprofit legal-advocacy organization. In March, ice agents made an arrest at Kings County Family Court, something that advocates say had never happened before.[...]
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